Semifinals: Day 2

Eugene FogartyContributor IJuly 8, 2010

Not Close Enough

      Germany   0-1   Spain

Two years may have passed but the result remained the same. Spain comfortably beat Germany once again by a scoreline that didn't reflect their dominance on the pitch. In the end though the amount of goals didn't matter as Spain did enough to reach the World Cup Final for the very first time.

The introduction of Pedro to the starting line-up may have been the defining managerial masterstroke of the game. Fernando Torres's lack of form and fitness saw the Liverpool striker take his seat on the bench for his teams biggest game so far. Clearly Germany is seen as a team worth taking on with eleven players rather than ten.

Pedro offered greater width and pace to what had been a narrow midfield previously. He also gave Xavi and Xabi Alonso more outlets with which to pass to. Spain could therefore spread the ball across the pitch from left to right forcing the Germans to run themselves ragged in the process.

Spain controlled possession for the majority of the game. La Seleccion's midfield kept the ball away from their counterattacking opponents to such an extent that when Germany finally got the ball they were too tired to use it effectively. 

The Germany that the world has come to love over the last month was not on show in Durban on Wednesday night. Not only were they not allowed to play to their strengths but the suspension of Thomas Muller was keenly felt. Muller's pace, energy and commitment to the teams cause would have been priceless to any attacking threat his team had. Piotr Trochowski, his understudy, is more of an individualist or dribbler and that was very obvious last night.

For all of Spain's intricate passing, pace out wide and domination of possession their winning goal came from the most unlikely and unglamorous of sources. A Xavi corner was met by a bullet header from Carles Puyol with only 15 minutes remaining. The Catalan was allowed to attack the ball unopposed from the edge of box, gaining the momentum that allowed him to rise above all comers and give Manuel Neuer no chance of stopping it.

Once la furia roja took the lead the end result was ominous. In fact, it should have been more had Pedro not been so wasteful. Substitute Torres was crying out for a square ball that would have given him a much needed goal but the Barcelona youngster had something of a rush of blood to the head. His place in the starting line up for Sunday must surely be assured nonetheless.

Germany threw everyone forward in an attempt to avoid another semi-final loss, however no clear cut opportunities emerged. Die Mannschaft reverted to long balls in the final minutes as they tried to force the issue but they never came close enough.  

Seven Barcelona players were the catalyst for this victory as Vincente del Bosque chose to go with obvious winners in an attempt to outwit Jogi Low. In the end, the Spanish team was just too good. Following their opening day defeat Spain got better and better with each passing game. In Soccer City on Sunday Spain has the chance to become the first side ever to lose their first game yet still lift the trophy.

The best team in the world over the past three years have the chance to cement their legacy. But for the Germans another day will surely come. Germany came into the tournament as underdogs but now leave as a revelation. A new wave of nontraditional and multicultural talent has captured the imagination of a nation. They have wowed the watching world. In two years time they should be even stronger.   

Spain is heading into the finals as the favorite. With so much momentum, talent and experience who would bet against them?